St Peter's Church, Eaton Square

St. Peter's Church, Eaton Square is a Church of England parish church at the east end of Eaton Square, Belgravia, London. It is a neoclassical building designed by the architect Henry Hakewill with a hexastyle portico with Ionic columns and a clock tower. On 19 October 1991 The Times newspaper wrote "St Peter’s must now rank as one of the most beautiful churches in London". It is a Grade II* listed building.[1]

St. Peter's Church, Eaton Square
Southwest front of St Peter's
LocationEaton Square,
Belgravia, London SW1
CountryUnited Kingdom
DenominationChurch of England
WebsiteSt Peter's Eaton Square
StatusParish church
DedicationPaul the Apostle
Events1837 rebuilt after a fire
1987 gutted by fire again
1991 rebuilt again
Functional statusActive
Heritage designationGrade II* listed
Designated24 February 1958
Architect(s)Henry Hakewill (1824 design)
Arthur Blomfield (1875 chancel and transepts)
Braithwaite Partnership (1991 rebuilding)
Completed1827, 1837, 1991
Vicar(s)Ralph Williamson
AssistantJulie Khovacs


St Peter's was built between 1824 and 1827 during the first development of Eaton Square. The interior was, as was common at the time, a "preaching box", with galleries in three sides and the organ and choir at the west end. James Elmes called the effect "chaste and simple".[2]

This building burnt down, and in 1837 was rebuilt from Hakewill's drawings by one of his sons.[3] The original building was a Commissioners' church, receiving a grant from the Church Building Commission towards its cost. The full cost of the building was £22,427 (equivalent to £1,910,000 in 2018),[4] towards which the Commission paid £5,556.[2][5]

In 1875, the church was enlarged and reordered to designs by Sir Arthur Blomfield, who added a chancel at the east end and north and south transepts and "fiercely normanized" the interior.[6] Internally Blomfield's chancel and transepts are Romanesque Revival, but externally they conform with Hakewill's neoclassical style.

From its founding St Peter's, Eaton Square, Pimlico and until at least 1878 was usually recorded as St Peter's, Pimlico.[7][8] In 1953 the crypt containing some 400 burials was cleared and the remains reinterred at Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey.

Choristers for the choir were provided by London Choir School until 1958 when the choir school closed.

On 20 October 1987 an anti-Catholic arsonist set fire to the east end, in the mistaken belief that the building was a Roman Catholic chapel. Within hours the church was engulfed. By the next day the fire was out but only the Georgian shell of the building remained. It was roofless, with most of its furnishings destroyed.[9]

The church needed total rebuilding. The Braithwaite Partnership of architects was appointed to completely redesign the building with a new and simpler interior, and to incorporate within the site a vicarage, offices, flats for a curate, verger and music director, a meeting hall, nursery school rooms and a large playroom for the church's youth club.

Work on the new church began at Easter 1990 and was completed in 1991. It retained the grand Georgian portico but beyond that the interior is described by visitors as clean, bright and modern.[10] The choir and organ are at the west end, as in the 1827 plan, but the fittings are thoroughly modern. The church is accessible and has disabled-accessible toilets. Behind the altar is an apse that is decorated entirely with gold mosaic. Around the side of the apse, part of the 1873 sanctuary which survived the fire can be seen, and also a side chapel now used as the vestry office, complete with stained glass.

Notable weddings

See also


  1. Historic England. "Church of St Peter  (Grade II*) (1356980)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  2. Pevsner & Cherry 1973, p. 498.
  3. Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1975.
  4. UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  5. Port 2006, p. 328.
  6. Pevsner & Cherry 1973, p. 499.
  7. "St. Peter's Church, Eaton Square, Pimlico". Genealogy & Family History. London Ancestor.
  8. "1878 Marriage Licence location St. Peter's Pimlico". required)
  9. Hatfield, Mary (25 February 1990). "The resurrection of St Peter's". The Sunday Times.
  10. "Review". Qype.
  11. UK Lord Lucan's son arrested at, accessed 25 February 2018


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